Illustration - Damaged/worn turbine blade, offshore wind, being replaced.
Bisphenol A and similar substances are among the most problematic substances that are now finding their way into drinking water, waterways and our sea areas in larger and larger quantities.
One of the reasons why this is so problematic is that in fairly small concentrations it damages the reproductive capacity of humans and all organisms. Another problematic aspect is that the quantity and use at the same time also increase quite significantly. One of the biggest problem areas is the enormous increase in epoxy compounds in the turbine blades in wind power plants.
The Norwegian Environment Agency published information that the EU is preparing a new, stricter set of regulations, and in that connection the EU's chemical register ECHA/REACH had this out for consultation.
The most problematic effect and use is little known
Much of the available research has concentrated on the environmental effects and breakdown of the chemical Bisphenol A and similar substances in their free form. This is extremely important, but the definitely worst effect has in many ways gone "under the radar" of most researchers and the authorities.
The "Trojan horse effect", the truly dangerous environmental bomb
With the enormously increasing use of epoxy fiberglass for several purposes comes an enormous environmental problem. Especially for wind power, this use is increasing almost exponentially and the industry completely lacks a circular economy for disposal. This is particularly serious as Bisphenol A is one of the main ingredients in turbine blades. In relation to wear and tear, this problem is significant as wind turbines are deployed in increasingly tougher and more demanding environments. This wear results in peeling of material in the form of small particles, so-called micro/nanoplastic. With turbine blades that reach speeds at the edge of the blade of up to 300 km/h and above, wear and tear increases significantly when they come into contact with rain, dust, salt particles and hail. Here with us, we have significantly more demanding conditions than further south in Europe.
When fiberglass epoxy and other plastics are broken down into microparticles, these particles act as a "protection" for the substances they contain so that they do not break down in the same way as the substances do in their natural, pure chemical form in the environment. This means that these problem substances retain their damaging potential much longer.
Microparticles with Bisphenols are much more dangerous for food chains than pure chemicals
When you think about plastic pollution in the sea and in our waterways and drinking water, it is easy to draw a comparison to the so-called "plastic whale" that washed ashore dead a few years ago. It had eaten large amounts of plastic that it "thought" was food. In the same way, the small particles that come off from a turbine blade or from other sources will float around in the free water masses for a long time, and can be perceived as food for zooplankton and other small organisms. Larger particles can also be eaten by larger crustaceans or fish. What is particularly worrying is the fact that much of Bisphenols and other toxins are released from the particles when they enter the intestinal system, which often has an acidic environment with a low PH. They are also released with increasing temperatures, and move up the food chain where they become more and more concentrated. In the end, much of the toxins we release will end up on our own dinner table and drinking water. This is the "Trojan horse effect".
Bisphenol A and similar substances are the ticking environmental bomb that we have to stop
Substances such as Bisphenol A and similar substances cause great damage to the reproduction of most organisms and to us humans. It is, among other things, a very disturbing study which shows that Bisphenol A causes damage to genetic material for several generations in rainbow trout. We also risk irreparable damage to the entire environment both on land and at sea if we do not limit or stop the use of such substances, and especially the deployment of new wind power plants in increasingly demanding environments or at sea.
One thing is that at our latitudes the conditions are much more demanding and with potentially much higher wear and tear than further south in Europe, another thing is that the "Trojan horse effect" will very likely be much worse here at our latitudes than in warmer countries to the south. Remember that Bisphenol A is excreted much more easily in warmer temperatures. With us, they will be able to retain their deadly effect for a much longer time, and may not break down to any significant extent, before they are eaten and enter the food chain.
Also remember that significant amounts of microplastics have been detected in all parts of this globe, from the ice on the most distant glaciers to the deepest ocean depths. What we release in the form of microplastics is collected and accumulated, so that the quantities increase every single year. What has already been released will remain as environmental and hormone bombs for the foreseeable future, even if we were to stop the release of such microplastic products on the day.
There is every reason to demand that we and our authorities in all countries also focus on this problem. In many ways it is already getting too late.
With our input to the EU's chemical register ECHE/REACH, we hope to get a stronger focus on the problem areas, and will also increase the pressure on the Norwegian authorities. There is far too much at stake for us not to take significantly stronger action against these issues. The consequences of us not being able to introduce strict enough measures are far too great.